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Acroholic
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can't show you guys the "with vs. without" results fully until somebody comes over with a DSLR camera, but I DIY'd a method to make my corals fluoresce brighter than you can possibly imagine.

I have had my 60w 50/50 white:blue fixture over my 20 gallon long SPS tank for a few months. I was very happy with it at first; in fact, I am still happy with it. The problem is that a 50/50 light left something to be desired for me personally. It seamed that when I got the corals to fluoresce, the tank was completely blue washed but when I got that natural daylight color I wanted, the corals just looked dull. There was no compromise so I just went on with a blue-washed tank.

I have been shopping around for a while to find a company willing to build me a pair of PAR38 LED bulbs to my specs for accent lighting over my tank in hopes to get more pop. The quotes were either astronomically priced or required me to buy a large quantity. I found one seller on ebay selling lights with a red and green added to the spectrum but they were 3w LEDs making them not exactly the "accent" lighting I was looking for, plus a single 3w red LED is probably overkill no matter which way you look at it being that the colors weren't independently dimmable. They were also almost all white and blue LEDs. So this is what I did:

I started with two of these:

Notice the difference optics in the center, that is because this is an "after" picture. Ignore that part as your lights will not have diffused optics if you order them. The lights were about $20 shipped each off of ebay.

I bought the lights before starting this project so that I could take them apart and figure out their construction. There are four phillips screw holding the front cover to the base. Under the base, there are 20mmx10mm optics just sitting on the LED bulbs:


Underneath the lenses you will find the LED bulbs themselves:

Each of these bulbs is a 1w LED as these are 15w bulbs. The bulbs you replace them with should be 1w as well unless you want to replace the power supply which you have access to by removing the three phillips screw on the back. I ordered 10 395nm UV bulbs, four 445nm blue and one 660nm red per bulb.

In order to put in the new bulbs, you first need to desolder the old bulbs:

I used a modified butane soldering iron because it gets hotter a lot faster and was less likely to burn the board. I stuck a razor blade under the LED and melted the solder to pull each terminal away one at a time.

I chose to install a ring of UV LED bulbs all of the way around the outside with the four blue bulbs and one red bulb in the middle:

Installing new LED bulbs on top of older solder required me to bend up the terminals on each bulb. I had to do this to keep the bottom of the bulb on the thermally conductive surface. Apply new thermal paste under each bulb.

I ordered a bunch of 60 degree optics for my LED bulbs and then 120 degree diffused optics for my red and blue bulbs:


After you stick your lenses on, place the front cover back on the bulb and test it out:

The UV bulbs are not as bright because our eyes can't see the color; however, a camera can. They do not show as bright in the picture because they are beyond the 60 degree angle of optics.

And check out the results:

Yes, I know that this picture looks very red. I ramped down my normal lights to about 15% for the whites and 25% for the blues to get any color at all other than blue to show in this picture. I need some DSLR shots to really show the difference.

The first thing that I noticed is that every single coral in the tank now fluoresces even with the normal lights on full blast. The reds, pinks and purples have gotten DEEP. The teals and greens have gotten so much brighter that one particular teal coral which you couldn't even see without looking for it is now the brightest and most eye-catching coral in the tank. The biggest shocker didn't even come from one of my coral. With only one of these lights done and hung over my tank, my yellowfin flasher wrasse swam under the light from the other side of the aquarium and began to glow and absolutely brilliant pink!!! My copperband butterfly followed him over and WOW, his stripes became an amazing orange!



So there you have it. Please, try this out for yourself! You will not be able to believe the results. The girlfriend and I sat there turning the light on and off over and over again looking at the changes. To be honest, its just bland without it now.

I will post before and after pictures with a DSLR sometime very soon. :dance:
 

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very nice. I guess I'm going to have to put up some pictures of my Acan prism leds.

LEDs
• 32 white
• 8 blue
• 9 royal blue
• 2 red
• 2 amber
• 2 green
• 2 cyan
• 6 magenta
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Do you have any banding with the 120 optic on the red?
 

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Is This Thing On?
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So are you saying that for any of our DIY builds from places like RapidLED we should be including these other colors and UV?
 

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Lost At Sea
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I'm starting to see a lot of other 3rd party LED makers including some green and reds in the mix now. I see why. That really does make a difference!

Wish I had the soldering skill/confidence. I've followed many of your DIY stuff and they all have turned out great for you!

Keep up the good work.
 

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Is This Thing On?
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I'm starting to see a lot of other 3rd party LED makers including some green and reds in the mix now. I see why. That really does make a difference!

Wish I had the soldering skill/confidence. I've followed many of your DIY stuff and they all have turned out great for you!

Keep up the good work.
Have you looked into the solderless kits from Rapid?
 

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Lost At Sea
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I have checked those out. I was just commenting on this neat DIY and the fact I don't think I have the skills to solder well enough to do something like this :(

Looks pretty neat. Would love to do something like that for my 10g
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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I have checked those out. I was just commenting on this neat DIY and the fact I don't think I have the skills to solder well enough to do something like this :(

Looks pretty neat. Would love to do something like that for my 10g

Soldering is easy. I am not allowed to play the game of operation due to a risk of electrocution.
 

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Is This Thing On?
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It's pretty funny how we were discussing this type of thing in one of my threads. I noticed Rapid has a wide range of different colors to choose from and I was asking about those but they're so new that no one really knows the benefits of them too well. Combine that with the problem Doc had with the banding and I am leaning more towards not including any special colors in my build. A nice DSLR shot of the tank so we can see what it looks like to our eyes rather than a camera will help.
 

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Novel Responder
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Can someone come over and build mine for me? :D I am the most mechanically uninclined person I know :( I can't do electric; I can't do plumbing; and carpentry is a foreign language. Trying to combine them all? :rotflmao:

I guess I picked the wrong hobby :rolleyes:
 

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Acroholic
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The red banding is extremely minimal with the diffused optics. It doesn't bother me at all but it could easily go away by sandblasting the face of the lense on the red LEDs. This will lower the intensity but will turn all of the red into ambient light and do away with any color spotting in the shimmer. I will do mine to show you.

The great enhancement came from the UV LEDs. I see a lot of people include them and say that you can't even tell they are there. I don't think that they used enough of them. Turning it on and off with the normal lights on makes it look like I am turning on corals.
 

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Is This Thing On?
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I'm getting my plans together to build my own LED fixture with parts from RapidLED and a total of 24 LED's. How many UV bulbs would you think to add to make any impact?

Also I heard that too much UV can actually be detrimintal to your corals. What do you think?
 

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I'm getting my plans together to build my own LED fixture with parts from RapidLED and a total of 24 LED's. How many UV bulbs would you think to add to make any impact?

Also I heard that too much UV can actually be detrimintal to your corals. What do you think?
I saw a few articles on advancedaquarist that have shown real UV (lower than 400nm) is not good for corals. But if we're talking about 405nm leds, I have no idea how much is too much, these leds are inefficient, the cheaper ones put out four or five times less light than the blue leds (whether you see the light or not). Food for thoughts, in the ocean the 405nm region is about half the intensity of the blue region, and is penetrating very deep, so I'm thinking it can't be too bad to have a little.

But my current problem is how little PAR they produce and how many you need to have something visually interesting.
 

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Is This Thing On?
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And that's what I was thinking. You would need to add quite a few of them to make any difference in visual effects and I would be worried that what I did add would harm the corals and give them a really bad sunburn.

Oh and I just noticed I hit 1,000 posts...
 

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Not sure why they even make those bulbs but uv is not needed and dangerous to everything we keep. I always thought that uv was filtered out within a few inches of hitting the water surface, but then I heard a report that they have found fish with skin cancer that reside on the great barrier reef which is directly below the hole in the ozone layer. I think the report indicated that its the same type of cancer we get from to much exposure.
 

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Not sure why they even make those bulbs but uv is not needed and dangerous to everything we keep. I always thought that uv was filtered out within a few inches of hitting the water surface, but then I heard a report that they have found fish with skin cancer that reside on the great barrier reef which is directly below the hole in the ozone layer. I think the report indicated that its the same type of cancer we get from to much exposure.
These leds are not actually UV, they are Violet, which does penetrate hundred of meters and isn't filtered by the water. Everybody calls them "UV" but they aren't. The very dangerous UV which causes cancer and sunburns is in the 300nm range.
 
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